BEFORE AND AFTER: Hurricane Ike Flattens Texas Towns

bolivar peninsula before and after ike pictures
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September 18, 2008—Gentle waves lap the shore near beach houses (top) on Texas' Bolivar Peninsula on September 9, 2008—just a few days before Hurricane Ike rolled into Galveston Bay.

An aerial photo of the same shoreline taken by the U.S. Geological Survey on September 15 (bottom) illustrates the dramatic destruction the strong Category 2 storm wrought on the coastal community. Yellow arrows mark the same distinguishing features in both images.

Unprotected by a seawall like the one built on nearby Galveston Island, homes along Bolivar's edge were among the hardest hit by Ike's massive 10- to 15-foot (3- to 4.6-meter) storm surge.

The catastrophic scene has many state officials reconsidering the risks of coastal development in the area's low-lying beach towns. (See a map of the Houston-Galveston coast.)

"We now have a graphic example of why you should build as far away from the dunes as possible," Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson told the Houston Chronicle during a post-storm flyover of the region.

—Victoria Jaggard

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